You’ve probably seen the rumors by now, but if you haven’t, here goes: The New York Yankees are reportedly targeting Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo. And hey, good for them. If you are going to go out and target specific players, shoot high. Luis Castillo is under team control for 4.5 more seasons before he reaches free agency. And he’s also sitting here around the mid-point of the season with a 2.56 ERA, leading the league in fewest hits allowed per 9-innings pitched, and has a career best 10.7 strikeouts per 9-innings pitched. He hasn’t even reached arbitration yet, so he’s making next to no money. Somehow that matters for a team like the Yankees these days.
Luis Castillo is quite the pitcher these days. But, his 2019 season is looking an awful lot like the All-Star season of Edinson Volquez, too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But a high walk rate is an issue right now for Castillo. In the past two seasons he’s had much better control than he’s had in 2019. He’s different than the guy he has been in the previous two seasons. Some of that is for the better. A lot of it, in fact, is for the better. But not all of it. Those walk totals are concerning.
With all of that said, the Cincinnati Reds don’t exactly have someone to replace Luis Castillo with. And he’s not an impending free agent now, or anytime soon. There’s no reason to trade the right-handed pitcher unless you just flat out pay through the nose to acquire him. To me, this is similar to another time when the Reds were involved in a trade for a long-term controlled, established pitcher. When Cincinnati traded for Mat Latos he had 4 years of team control remaining. He was young and had pitched very well before the trade. And the Reds paid through the nose to acquire him. The deal would involve three guys that went on to become All-Stars, and one guy who had already been an All-Star. Edinson Volquez was traded along with prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger for Latos after the 2011 season.
That’s the kind of trade package you want to look for if you are even going to entertain the idea of moving Luis Castillo. Multiple elite prospects to headline the deal, or at least young big leaguers who would be under control for multiple years who have the potential to be all-star caliber talents.
The Reds are looking to compete. They are looking to buy. They will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $50M to spend this offseason on free agents to help fill out their 2020 roster. If a team wants to acquire Luis Castillo, the Reds should absolutely listen. No one should ever just be off of the table. But someone needs to be willing to overpay to make it happen, too. Otherwise Cincinnati should not have any interest in making a trade here.